WASHINGTON — Responding to his call for a jobs bill aimed at easing the unemployment crisis, the Transportation for America coalition today wrote to President Obama and cabinet members outlining the transportation investments can put the most Americans back to work, quickly.
The coalition, now with more than 400 members, also applauded Obama for moving ahead on his vision for a world-class network of intercity rail.
“Our coalition members have worked hard to make the case for just such an investment,” said John Robert Smith, co-chair of T4America, “so the president’s announcement today of progress on 13 corridors is welcome news, indeed.”
The letter outlines key principles for targeting transportation funding to have the most impact in putting Americans back to work while also laying the groundwork for long-term economic prosperity.
First, the letter said, Congress can save jobs right now and put laid-off public transit workers back on the job by offering emergency assistance to the hundreds of transit agencies across the country that are facing deep cuts in jobs and service in this economic crisis.
“This will not only keep bus and train operators working, it also will ensure that other Americans can make it to their jobs,” Smith said. “Meanwhile, investments should be made in workforce development training opportunities targeted to workers in greatest need, as well as increases in funding for highway and road programs with the highest job growth potential.”
Congress also must recognize that repair, maintenance and upgrades of existing roads and transit systems puts more people to work, faster than building new projects, the letter said.
“It’s a no-brainer that funding needs to be dedicated to those transportation programs already in place – both to reinstate access to jobs, and provide transit workers with employment,” said James Corless, campaign director for T4America. “It takes zero time and no red-tape for a transit system to rehire workers or find new employees if given the flexibility to spend funding to reopen cut service lines or repair already existing infrastructure.”
T4America’s proposal also emphasizes the need to distribute investments towards forward-thinking programs that will begin to advance the nation’s transportation network, including high-speed rail and clean public transportation, both of which can also help to reduce dependence on oil.
Crucial to truly revolutionizing the national system is to make sure that this jobs bill is short-term for 2010 only, with a commitment to creating a strong, long-term transportation authorization bill that meets our larger transportation needs, Corless said.
“If President Obama is serious about another jobs bill that will truly impact job creation and spur economic growth, he and Congress need to allocate investments towards maintenance and operating costs for transit agencies across the country, giving them the ability to decide how best to put the money to use,” Corless said.
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